The Green Power of St. Hildegard von Bingen

Matthew Wood, MS
I will be getting together with herbal elders and youths this year at the International Herb Symposium, at Wheaton College, in Massachusetts, sponsored by the United Plant Savers (president, Susan Leopold) in June 2023. This is a return to the happy conferences of years past when herbalists from across the entire world gathered to celebrate our common heritage.

One thing I notice all the time when I meet with herbal elders is how young they look---almost every one of them. Herbalist Judy Lieblein, who teaches at her school in Marin (Gathering Thyme herb store), pointed this out to me. It was so obvious once I looked. I'm 68 but how old do I look? Or feel? I can tell you the latter---better than when I was younger.

Herbs in food - spices and savory herbs - are health-promoting in a general way. Many years ago there was a lecturer at Bastyr University in Seattle, one of our naturopathic schools. He'd left his native Lebanon. After a year or so in the US, he noticed he was not feeling as well. He looked at his diet and noticed the absence of the great culinary herbs of the Mediterranean he was brought up on (we would generally call these 'herbs of Provence.') Including these in his diet, he quickly felt better.

There is something also to be said for depending on natural healing for a lifetime. This goes hand in hand with avoiding unnecessary drugs and medical therapy that have severe side effects. ("Side effects," complained a friend of mine. "Why don't they just call them what they are: effects").

My parents are 92 and still living on their own - with family help. My dad said, "Well, I think we made it this far due to your help with herbs and homeopathy." I notice that now they pay much more attention to what the doctors say; this seems to be typical of people in the twilight of life.

My mother's parents also avoided drugs when they could. My grandfather had a mini-stroke at age 74. I was eating dinner with Grampa and Gramma when he said, "I can't remember to take the drugs, so I don't even try anymore. I'm living dangerously. I might die any time." They lived to be 93 and 95 respectively.

Recently, I watched the speech by Holocaust survivor Vera Sharav at the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg Code. She is a severe critic of big pharma and medicine who saw the resemblance between the Nazi use of medicine as a propaganda tool and means of social control and the modern imposition of mandates in the COVID pandemic. She was strong in voice and presence on the stage at age 84. She opposed excessive reliance on drugs and vaccines. She didn't let the United States off the hook, pointing out the similarities between the ostracism of Jews in Nazi Germany and the non-vaccinated in the last year.

During COVID, I had a lot of dreams - the virus hits the dream centers in the brain taking you to places you've never seen before. I saw the dead; I saw my grandfather. I understood he was a spiritual warrior, not just a cranky old guy. He had been leader of the War Resistor's League during WWII. Wikipedia calls him "the indomitable Abraham Kaufman." To stand against the tide and ostracism when the US was raising troops and propaganda to fight the Nazis was the work of a spiritual warrior.

I also believe that simply having herbs run through your fingers and tasting them all year long - little bits or more, every day - enhances health. Indeed, I think that this is what keeps all these elder herbalists looking and feeling so young.

Judy also pointed out that this herbal power would fit what St. Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was thinking about when she talked of the viriditas or green power. Vir = power, potency; viridis = green; viriditas = vitality, fecundity, lushness, verdure, growth; virtus = virtue, the virtue of a plant or fine person.

And that's the veritas = Latin, "the truth."

Matthew Wood, MS - writing from near the river that starts at Veritas Caput (True Headwaters; Lake Itasca)
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